What many people don’t realize is that self-sabotage usually stems from a place of protection and self-preservation. It’s a subconscious behavior that is driven by a part of you that wants to feel safe. In many cases, it derives from good-hearted intent, which is why self-sabotage can sneak up on you so easily. It rarely feels malicious or hindering, so we fail to see it as it is, and let it continue time and time again.
Why does self-sabotage happen?
If you’re reading this you are likely someone who values personal growth and becoming the best version of yourself, so the idea of self-sabotage can feel like a foreign concept. You might be thinking, “I’m always striving to be my best self, why would I sabotage that?”, but that’s why it can be so sneaky!
As I mentioned before, this is a subconscious phenomenon that stems from wanting to feel safe. While our conscious mind can fully desire to change and grow, it’s possible to simultaneously have a part of you that secretly doesn’t want that change, and will trigger behavior that will actively hinder positive change.
What does self-sabotage look like?
Self-sabotage is typically not obvious and will likely show up as small behaviors that you can easily forgive and pass off, furthering its ability to go unnoticed and yet remaining very present in your life.
For example, many people, especially women, tend to sell themselves short. Women often play small in terms of business, downplaying their skills, talents, and accomplishments in an effort to not outshine others. They would rather make everyone else feel comfortable than acknowledge their strengths. This is self-sabotage disguised as modesty. By downplaying your light you are hindering your ability to be recognized and grow in the different facets of your life.
How can you prevent self-sabotage?
What it all comes down to is desire. You may have two different desires without realizing it. One wants change, the other, safety. In order to abolish self-sabotage your desires must align so they can work together rather than hinder one another.
Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to change when you are fed up with a situation? You get to a point where the current circumstance is so uncomfortable and unbearable that the only option is to change. This is most likely because your current reality no longer feels safe or in alignment with who you are currently, so your subconscious is finally getting on the growth bandwagon so you can wholeheartedly move forward.
This doesn’t mean that you have to get to that point in order to make positive change, it simply means that in order to eliminate self-sabotage it is important to trust that growth and change can be safe.
Here are some ways you can do this:
- Recognize your self-sabotaging thoughts. You can’t heal something you don’t recognize, and by simply acknowledging that you’re having a self-sabotaging thought you significantly shift your momentum and ability to grow. You don’t have to be ashamed or feel bad about the thought, simply address it, and reflect inward on why that thought is coming to mind.
- Get extremely clear on your game plan. After recognizing your self-saboteurs, come up with a plan of action. Whatever the change entails, list out every single step in your plan, and every scenario outcome. Doing so will shine a light on all of the “what ifs” and help reduce the fear factor of your subconscious, to help you move forward in a positive direction.
- Visualize the outcomes. You can help your subconscious feel safer with change when you visualize what could be. Try to embody the feelings that the change would bring. Happiness, confidence, security, relief, etc.
- Act is if. Live each day “as if” you have already made a positive change. How would you act? Speak? Dress? This helps to conquer your self-saboteurs and propel you forward toward positive change.
When working through these practices you want to remember that self-sabotage stems from a place of fear and needing protection. It is simply a subconscious thought that only has power when you allow it to fester ominously. When you shine a light on your self-sabotaging thoughts and bring them to the forefront of your mind, you can lessen the ability for them to hinder your growth.
Self-sabotage is very common, and once you learn how to nurture your inner self and create goals and dreams in alignment with your core values — you can become limitless.
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